How do University of Maryland students afford school?

by AMBER EBANKS

At the University of Maryland, students are eligible to apply for many forms of financial aid. The university offers federal work study, scholarships and grants, but most often, students take out loans to pay for school.

According to the U.S. News and World Report, “42.5 percent of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid and the average need-based scholarship or grant award is $9,213.”

Many students at the University of Maryland work on campus in different campus offices or at the diner, some working under the university’s federal work-study program. According to its website, the Federal Work-Study Program (FWS) at the University of Maryland is “a federally funded employment program available to both undergraduate and graduate students who exhibit financial need.”

“Students must apply to the program and if accepted, the FWS Program is designed to assist students with meeting their educational and living expenses through part-time employment,” said Hannah Vahle, the Graduate Assistant of the University of Maryland’s Federal Work Study, OSFA.

If students can participate in FWS, their award is not credited toward their tuition bill. The work schedules for work study students range from 10 to 15 hours a week, with a maximum of 20 hours. Students are paid directly through biweekly paychecks.

“In terms of the number of UMD students who participate in work study, there are approximately 488 students this year participating,” said Vahle.

There are more students employed at the University of Maryland through other job programs than the Federal Work Study program, which can only accept a limited number of students a year.

According to the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, as of Oct. 1, 2015, the new minimum wage for Prince George’s County increases to $9.55/hr. Despite this, many students at the University are still receiving between $8.25/hr and $8.50/hr as a result of the minimum wage increase on July 1, 2015. The Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) is one group on campus that is working against the minimum wage gap on campus. According to its social media pages, the group works to fight against  economic and racial justice in our campus and surrounding communities.”

“I feel a little upset,” said Michael-Anthony Moore, a junior journalism student worker at the University of Maryland. “It’s like I’m being underpaid and I probably work as much as the next person in Prince George’s County and they’re getting paid more. All of my money goes towards rent and groceries.”

There are also many university students that are members of the United States military. On campus, students can participate in Air Force ROTC and Army ROTC. Students that are interested in the Navy ROTC can take classes at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., through the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area Program. ROTC offers many scholarships and tuition assistance options to students, but most programs require years of service after graduation.

Outside of ROTC, some students also decide to enlist in a military branch while enrolled as a student. United States veterans and dependents are eligible to use military benefits, such as one of the GI bills to pay for school, if they meet a serious of requirements. The G.I.Bill, was a law that provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans. There are many GI Bill programs, including the Active Duty Montgomery GI Bill.

The GI Bill most commonly used at the University of Maryland is the Post-9/11 GI Bill. It has a few components that are unavailable in other GI Bill options, including the Yellow Ribbon Program and the ability to transfer one’s entitlements to one’s spouse or children.

Similarly to other GI Bill programs, to be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill service members must meet a series of requirements. These requirements include, but are not limited to: having at least 90 days of active duty service after Sept. 10, 2001, and still being on active duty, or being an honorably discharged Veteran.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides up to 36 months of education benefits. After submitting an application and getting approval, the education benefits can be used towards tuition and fees, a monthly housing allowance and a stipend for annual books and school supplies.

According to Michael Vivian, the Veterans Certification Officer at the Office of the Registrar, institutions such as the University of Maryland that participate in the Yellow Ribbon program can also provide students with a monthly allowance without taking money from one’s Post-9/11 GI Bill fund.

“Schools have the flexibility to designate the number of students that receive the money,” said Vivian, who handles all requests all requests for VA educational benefits. “At the University of Maryland, only out of state residents can receive the Yellow Ribbon money.”

Other than GI Bills, University of Maryland students can also earn military benefits by enrolling in one of the university’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Programs (ROTC), enlisting Active Duty in the military while attending University, or a combination of both programs.

The Veteran’s Affairs office is one of the many offices that handle financial aid for students at the University of Maryland. According to Angela Ryan, an Associate Bursar at the University of Maryland, “the bursar’ office is an accounts receivable office. We do not set tuition rates or participate in the budget process that determines tuition rates.”

Several members of the University of Maryland’s Bursar’s Office declined to comment.

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